2015 – Myra Barrs & Sarah Horrocks – Harold Rosen lecture
“All the Children Have a Voice”: Educational blogs and their effects on students’ writing. This talk, by Myra Barrs and Sarah Horrocks, was given on Friday 28th November 2014, 5-6.30 pm in the Drama Studio, Level 1, UCLInstitute of Education, Bedford Way. It was promoted jointly by DARE and LATE (London Association for the Teaching of English).
Listen to the audio-recording of the lecture on the Harold Rosen Lectures page.
There is plenty of evidence to show that blogging arouses students’ interest and enthusiasm for writing, but very little attention has been paid to its effects on the quality of writing in general, or to its potential for developing students’ writing in new directions. Myra and Sarah’s research project set out to study practice in blogging, with a particular emphasis on children’s writing, in four primary classes. In most classrooms, for most pupils, blogging resulted in pupils’ increased engagement in writing, greater awareness of audience, greater awareness of their own writing and that of others, and an enhanced sense of belonging to a writing community.
The talk was grounded in an introductory flashback to Harold Rosen’s work, its emphasis on writing for a purpose and an audience contrasted with the artificial, mechanistic approaches promoted by the late QCA. The blog writing was shown to reinstate a sense of purpose and audience, a writing community of peers, and a relaxed, productive use of language.
The lecture was followed by a short Q&A session. The audience of teachers, researchers, students and a sprinkling of august presences from the world of English were keen to hear more about how the teachers had managed the blogs, the tensions between this freer mode of expression and the constraints of ‘official’ writing, and the bypassing of the relentless assessment framework.
Myra is a freelance author, consultant and researcher. She was previously a teacher, educational adviser, and director of the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, developing teaching resources and publications such as the Primary Language Record, Whole to Part Phonics, Boys and Writing, The Reader in the Writer, and Many Routes to Meaning. Her freelance projects have included: the QCA project on Reading Differences, Assessing Learning in Creative Contexts (Centre for British Teachers Education Trust), and books and articles on early years practice in Italy, teaching poetry, drama, and imaginative play. Her most recent research project, with Sarah Horrocks, is Educational Blogs and their Effects on Students’ Writing (CfBT Education Trust 2014)
Sarah is director of London Connected Learning Centre which works with schools using digital technologies to support learning across the curriculum. London CLC was awarded the ALT Learning Technologist Team of the Year in 2012 and the 2014 NAACE (ICT Association) Impact Award for curriculum support for schools. Sarah has worked as a puppeteer, primary teacher and deputy headteacher. Sarah has a particular interest in digital writing and received a bursary for a study visit to the New York City Writing Project and New York City Hive Learning Network earlier this year.